In 1989, when Congress created the National Museum of the American Indian as part of the Smithsonian Institution, we began meeting with hundreds of Native people and communities from all over the Western Hemisphere. We strove to gather up the best advice and wisdom available to us. From those meetings and consultations we compiled a set of concepts and precepts that became, in truth, our guide to building the very museum you are planning to visit. This process was part of our preparation, our desire to ensure that the museum would meet the aspirations of all those who helped us conceive it.

This new building joins the NMAI’s two other sites - the George Gustav Heye Center in New York and the Cultural Resources Center in Maryland—as the preeminent settings for presenting the cultural achievements of the more than 30 million Native people of the Western Hemisphere. With its curvilinear design steeped in Native tradition, the museum will serve as the eyes, voice, and spirit of Native peoples as we share our past, present, and future.

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Featured Exhibits

Fritz Scholder Exhibition icon

Fritz Scholder

Indian ⁄ Not Indian
Our Lives Exhibition icon

Our Lives